We’re working together to get musicians paid — and on time!

Recording Vice President's Report

Volume 119, No. 8September, 2019

Your Electronic Media Services Department, at work for you. TOP ROW (from left): Cathy Calabrese, Steve Singer, Recording Vice President Andy Schwartz, Alex Blake and Marisa Friedman. BOTTOM ROW: Debbie Shew, Rachel Chu, Bill Crow, Wen Lin, Anna Wichert. Not pictured: Bob Pawlo. (photo by Walter Karling)

I want to take this opportunity to update you on activities in the Local 802 Recording Department (also known as Electronic Media Services) and introduce the great staff working on your behalf. I recently assumed an enhanced role in managing the department following the departure of supervisor John Painting to a position at the AFM. Recording already had my oversight as vice president but this change entails a greater degree of hands-on management. I add these responsibilities to my job as secretary of the local and overseeing the fields of single engagement club dates, nightclubs, jazz, Latin, hotels, music education, and the Local 802 Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund. I have started to integrate myself into the department and will soon move my office to the second floor to be more available to both the staff and our members.

Our number-one job here is to make sure you get paid for recordings, and in a timely way. It’s possible that your only contact with the Recording Department comes at the checks window, but behind the scenes there is so much happening. We have a highly skilled team serving the membership and working daily with record companies, TV and film producers, jingle houses, Broadway shows and theatrical producers, among others. Our staff works together in small groups, each with a specific focus. Contact me or anyone below at our main number, which is (212) 245-4802.

Bob Pawlo and Marisa Friedman are the business representatives in our department. They are our problem solvers who meet with members, keep tabs on sessions and broadcasters, and communicate with employers. They are the first responders to answer your questions.

Bill Crow and Debbie Shew manage the large number of checks that must go into our escrow account. When checks sit uncollected for six months, this account serves to hold money until we can locate musicians. This prevents the original check from going stale, which would mean that the employer would have to re-cut it. When we are able to locate any “lost” musicians, we then cut a check to them for what they’re owed. Please remember to sign up to receive an e-mail so that we can reach you when checks arrive! You can sign up by sending an e-mail to

Cathy Calabrese, Alex Blake, Anna Wichert and Rachel Chu process incoming contracts and contact employers when they spot errors.

Steve Singer and Wen Lin will be the first to answer the phone when you are calling to ask about checks. They handle mailings, recording work dues and keep a check spreadsheet. Rachel and Debbie also jump in to cover calls to the department, too. All in all, it’s a very strong collaborative team.

Often, contracts and report forms come to us with problems. Mistakes in wages or benefits require calls to employers to ensure our members are getting paid correctly under the AFM agreements. When employers fail to file an agreement for a recording session, our reps go into action for you.

There is also considerable labor in managing our giant database. Tens of thousands of lines of data are carefully entered each year so that our records are accurate and checks can be processed for wages, residuals, pension and health contributions, along with billing for recording work dues.

Speaking of work dues, I know that members sometimes ask why the union collects them. The simple answer is that the business of running Local 802 or any union is very costly. It is also easy to confuse annual membership dues with work dues. Work dues are a percentage of wages paid by everyone who records under union agreements. This includes non-members and heirs of musicians. These dues support a range of things including the costs of negotiating your recording agreements on a national level, collecting your wages and benefits, and delivering the checks to you. Work dues are what pay for everything from 802 staff salaries to keeping the lights on at your union. Working with the protection of a union agreement means we maintain a level playing field for all, with equal pay for equal work. Your dues contributions to our collective union also ensures we can continue to make improvements to the agreements we work under and that we will always have the best representation for our members at the bargaining table. And as always, when you call for assistance, we are there to help.

I am looking forward to working more closely with this team, perhaps bringing some new ideas and efficiencies to the department in the process. But really, my job is to allow each of our team members to have the support they need to do their best for you, the membership. Next time you come up to the second floor, please stop in and say hello! You can reach me or any of us at (212) 245-4802.

Lastly, “dark dates” (non-union recording sessions) can be reported confidentially 24 hours a day to our department at (212) 245-4802, ext. 130 (Marisa), ext. 191 (Bob) or ext. 110 to reach me directly. The more information you can give us the better chance we have to ensure that proper wages and benefits are paid. You can be assured that your identity and job are protected with a confidential call to the Recording Department.